Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

It’s the age of the Internet. Are local agents obsolete? I don’t think so.

I’m an agent, so of course I’m biased. I’ll admit that up front. But keep reading. Here are five reasons why it’s always better to have a local insurance agent:

1. A local agent works for you, not the insurance company.

By license and law, an agent is required to put your needs first. They may be paid a commission by the company, but their advice always stands independent of the company. And speaking of advice...

2. A local agent is an adviser first, and a salesperson second.

I belong to a professional insurance agents association. I’ve known hundreds of insurance agents over many years in this business.

We share some things in common. One of those things is the belief that our first duty is to provide the best advice possible, even if it means losing a sale.

Local agents don’t look to fill sales quotas. Their first job is to provide the best advice for your situation.

3. A local agent lives in your area and will likely see you after a claim.

If you purchase insurance from a stranger on a toll-free number, and later, you have a claim, will that anonymous person be there to help you through the claim?

More importantly, will they be accountable for the advice they gave?

A local agent knows that they may run into you at the grocery store after you’ve had a claim.

They will want to be able to look you in the eye and know that they recommended the best insurance package for you before you had a claim. Which leads me to my next point...

4. A local agent is an added layer of protection.

How are agents an added layer of protection? In two ways.

First, you get an expert to help you choose the best insurance. They have years of experience, or they have access to “mentor-agents” with years of experience. That’s better than “do-it-yourself” any day.

Second, if you buy a policy through a local agent, they have insurance in case they make a mistake.

It’s rare that an agent makes a serious mistake when selling a policy.

But it can happen. That’s why they carry “errors and omissions” coverage.

If you “do-it-yourself” online, or through an impersonal “800 number” you’ve lost that extra layer of protection.

5. A local agent cares about protecting your money after the claim as much as before the claim.

Many people are enticed by a cheap price. They forget that a cheap policy today can be the most expensive thing that’s ever happened to them if there’s a claim.

Your local agent cares about “what if there’s a claim” more than they do about selling you a cheap policy.

My advice: A local agent lives in the community with your friends and neighbors. They know that bad things happen to good people, and they are ready to stand with them.

So, don’t abandon your trusted local agent. If you don’t have a local agent, feel free to call me. Everyone deserves a trusted agent in their corner.

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Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or bruces@sackifs.com.